Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 24, 2008

Goatwoman of Corvis County

Shakespeare & Co., Lenox
through August 31
By Shera Cohen

It’s not every day that an audience member has the opportunity to see the world premiere of a play which is also the first play in a new venue. This was the case with “The Goatwoman of Corvis County” at Shakespeare & Company’s Bernstein Theatre.

This play, which was one of the semi-staged readings at the end of Shakes & Co.’s last season, was brought to life as a full-blown production. [September 1st marks the full-day of this year’s readings.]

“Goatwoman” has a strange title, indeed. Its characters and plot are equally as strange and quirky. Charlotte, a healer of goats, is a five-time married woman who has huge difficulties healing her own life. Keira Naughton commands the stage in nearly every scene. This young actress, who also starred this season at Berkshire Theatre Festival’s “The Book Club,” is both strong and subtle in her performances. Charlotte is a mentally sick woman, and Naughton portrays her perfectly – as if we (the audience) are eavesdropping into her life.

Charlotte’s husband is a brute with a low IQ, yet he is smart enough to know that his wife could get him into trouble. Thomas Kee nicely creates a wise-guy Randy who no one would possibly like, let alone love. David Rosenblatt (Charlotte’s son) and Daniel Berger-Jones (an attorney) don’t have a lot to do, but are effective as foils in fleshing out the characters of Charlotte and Randy.

Kudos to set designer Susan Zeeman Rogers, who brought the audience immediately into the story. Through smells and sounds, even from the lobby and rounding the corner into the theatre, it was obvious to theatre-goers that every detail had been attended to. The working kitchen, garage, patio, and secret room clearly defined the parameters of the story and its characters. Seamlessly segued in were many flashbacks arranged by director Robert Walsh.

The playwright, Christine Whitley, attended the performance. She is so young, and she is so talented. Watch for her name in the future.